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Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Lisztomania

Review of Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and giveaway

Photo via GlassnoteGlassnoteSo ever since my indie-pop clubbing days – and we’re talking almost a decade ago now – there was a song that I thought was “Too Young” by Phoenix, and it informed my entire opinion of the band – namely that they were far too slick and catchy and melodic to be trusted. And that’s largely been the impression I’ve had through most of this century until just recently, so when I actually found the video for “Too Young” and realized that I had never heard this song before, well my reality changed just a bit on two counts. One, that to the best of my knowledge, I’d never actually heard Phoenix before their latest record and two, that I have no idea whatsoever what that song that’s been embedded in my head all these years actually is.

And that’s really funny because even though I went into Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix with fresh ears, though not realizing it, my impression of the just-released record from the French quartet was that it was far too slick and catchy and melodic to be trusted. I am, however, much less suspicious these days and so rather than back away cautiously from the perfectly-assembled pop package, I have happily embraced it. Wolfgang is the sort of record that makes you glad you’ve invested in a decent sound system – the production is absolutely meticulous without crossing the line into antiseptic. There’s not a stray sound or squeak, each palm-muted guitar strum and cymbal crash has the perfect decay so as to not disturb the frequencies of the one that follows and Thomas Mars’ vocals are pitch-perfect without any tell-tale autotune artifacts. It sounds perfect.

And usually this sort of sonic perfection would, as mentioned, get my spider-sense tingling – don’t ask me for what, I’m not that rational – but when coupled with tunes as intensely melodic as these, it’s like chocolate and peanut butter, assuming you like chocolate and don’t have a fatal nut allergy. Similarly, the lyrics may be nonsensical but the syllables fit the melodies so flawlessly that criticizing them for not having any deeper meaning seems declasse. After all, this band has just delivered a pure pop record the likes of which may not be topped this calendar year – solid, infectious and utterly danceable from start to finish (well, maybe not the “Love Like A Sunset” interludes, but everyone needs a breather). With that much going for it, who needs profundity?

Phoenix are set to launch a North American tour in a couple weeks and have a date set for June 15 in Toronto at the Phoenix, which is I believe their first local performance since the inaugural Virgin Festival in 2006. Courtesy of REMG and Universal Music Canada, I’ve got a pretty sweet prize pack to give away consisting of a pair of passes to said show and a copy of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on vinyl. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want Phoenix and Phoenix at the Phoenix” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body, and have that in to me by midnight, June 9.

There’s interviews with band members at Paper and CCTV. Also, via Gorilla Vs Bear, there’s a band minisite wherein you can listen to streams of demo versions of Wolfgang tracks – the password is “concorde”, mais certainment.

Video: Phoenix – “1901”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Stream: Phoenix / Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
MySpace: Phoenix

Prefix reports that in conjunction with their now-underway North American tour, A Camp are releasing a digital EP of covers entitled Covers EP on June 9 via iTunes and June 16 via other digital outlets. If you’d ever wanted to hear Nina Persson sing Pink Floyd, your ship has come in. They’re at the Mod Club on June 1 and there’s interviews with the band at Windy City and amNY.

The lead track from The Radio Dept’s forthcoming “David” EP – out June 24 – is now available to download. It’s mellower than last year’s sample from Clinging To A Scheme, “Freddie & The Trojan Horse”, but offers a good counterpoint and perhaps stakes out the two ends of what album number might have to offer if and when it finally comes out, hopefully late Summer or early Fall.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “David”

Los Campesinos! drop hints about album number three, currently in progress, to Pitchfork.

Manic Street Preachers provide a track-by-track video annotation of their new record Journal For Plague Lovers to NMETV.

NOW and The Detroit Free Press speak to Doves, in town at the Kool Haus on June 1.

The first video from The Rumble Strips’ forthcoming Welcome To The Walk Alone, out July 13, is now out. Clash reports that the song was inspired by a mugging attempt on singer Charlie Waller.

Video: The Rumble Strips – “Not The Only Person”

Another “live session in an unusual setting” series has cropped up online, and Off The Beaten Tracks makes itself notable with an episode featuring Frightened Rabbit, complete with new song. Frightened Rabbit will be at the Horseshoe on July 22.

Tripwire asks five questions of Ladytron and take a set of the least flattering photos ever while they’re at it.

NME gets Jarvis Cocker to provide a song-by-song guide to Further Complications, while Billboard solicits a Q&A. A handful of North American tour dates have trickled out – don’t get excited, Toronto, we’re not amongst them – but what is interesting is that Jarv is slated to play the Virgin Festival in Vancouver on July 26, which confirms that a) the dates of Vancouver’s V edition are July 25 and 26 and b) their lineup is NOT being geared to the suck. Hopefully this augurs well for Toronto and if not, maybe a trip out west is in order. Also uncovered are the dates and venue of V Calgary, which will be August 8 and 9 at their Olympic Park. It’s all slowly coming together, people.

Ear Farm interviews The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

eye and Chart talk to Dog Day, who are playing a CD release show for Concentration at Lee’s Palace tonight.

Under The Radar talks to Andrew Kenny of The Wooden Birds.

By : Frank Yang at 8:31 am
Category: Contests

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RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. ricky says:

    jarvis must come to toronto.

  2. Bob says:

    Hey Frank,
    Maybe that unidentified song from your club days was Mr. Brightside by the Killers.

    Oh, you’re older – maybe it was Home For A Rest…..

    Hahahahh.

  3. Shannon says:

    Your unidentified song might be “In the Morning” by Junior Boys. You might have already ruled it out but if not, it is one of my all-time favorite songs and it definitely repeats the words “too young”over and over.

  4. Guilty Ear — The Bygone Bureau says:

    […] in May, I found myself trying to legitimize my affection for Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by reading critics I hold in high esteem. I even sought comfort from critics I hold in low esteem. Even Pitchfork, despite its notorious […]